DEMENTIA IS NOW THE LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH

This article heading without doubt caught my attention. Heart disease was the previous more common cause of death due to an increase in the number of people with obesity in the population. The article states that “last year more than 61,000 people died of dementia – 11.6% of all recorded deaths.” That, to me, seems like a very huge proportion, and develops an increasing sense of concern with regards to neurodegenerative conditions. According to BUPA, every 3 seconds someone in the world will develop dementia! Why is dementia becoming such a huge problem? And how can we stop it?



The Office for National Statistics says the increase in deaths due to dementia rather than heart disease is largely due to an ageing population. People are living for longer and deaths from some other causes, including heart disease, have gone down. It was surprising to see that death from dementia has dramatically increased for women, but stayed relatively level with heart disease for men. The causes of dementia are not explicitly known, but the fact that by definition it is a ‘neurodegenerative condition’ indicates that you cannot sadly survive the diagnosis. I did some more research about this and I learnt about how the awareness of dementia has recently risen. This is something I can very much agree with. We all hear a lot about dementia now, about the warning signs, risk factors, it is quite probably one of the biggest issues within healthcare at the moment alongside antibiotic resistance, mental health and diabetes. Chances are some of us have met somebody, or know of somebody with the condition. However, if I asked my parents about when they were about my age, I doubt they would have known about it as it was much rarer.

Dementia unfortunately cannot be treated. However, the services that are now available to care for patients suffering from it have dramatically improved. This means that the level of care patients will receive will be much better and much more informed. As a lady who lost both her parents and grandmother to the disease said when talking about her mother’s death due to dementia last year, “I was really impressed with the level of care she received. It was really touching and respectful the way she was treated,” in comparison to her grandmother and father’s experience in which she says she was explaining the condition to the doctors. There are now specialist dementia care homes, in which residents may engage in activities to keep their brain and body health and help to delay the progression of the illness. I think that effective end of life care is one the most important and most valuable services provides by the healthcare service. Allowing a patient to die with dignity and comfortably doesn’t just ensure the best for the patient but also eases the relatives and friends at such an understandably difficult time.

Advertisements